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Waterfront: idle time blow-out shows need to end job for life



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JOHN SHARP MEDIA RELEASE

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GILMORE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SHIPPING AND WATERFRONT REFORM

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: Tel 06 277 4213, Fax 06 2 7 7 2124

WATERFRONT: IDLE TIME BLOW-OUT SHOWS NEED TO END JOB FO R LIFE

Putting aside the blame-shifting between the Waterside Workers' Federation, the employers and the Government over the failure of the waterfront reform program, all are agreed that idle time levels have blown out and that this is directly related to the fall- off in trade.

Even the WWF's Tas Bull has now admitted these facts and interestingly blames the situation on Labor's recession.

However, neither the Government nor the WWF are prepared to confront the real issue that the idle time crisis has laid bare - that the inability of the waterfront to respond to the commercial realities of the market is at the very heart of the Australian waterfront's inefficiency and outrageous cost.

Because of the security of tenure enjoyed bye australian wharfies, the Australian waterfront is left, in the recession that Tas Bull has correctly identified, to carry the same labor force as was required in an active trade period, yet the amount of cargo to be

shifted is drastically reduced.

Simple arithmetic converts this to enormously increased unit costs - which get passed on to users in the cost-plus structure of the Australian waterfront.

Despite some price warring among stevedores in their efforts to retain or to increase market share in a drastically reduced market, users have seen no benefits from the Government's so-called reform program.

Tas Bull, in his efforts to off-load the responsibility for stagnation of waterfront reform onto an abstract recession, has accidentally hit the nail on the head. The problem with the waterfront is that it has no means by which it can adjust to a recession, or to any other market movement.

If he and the ACTU are in fact "prepared to co-operate with whatever measures were available to expedite the reform plan and remove surplus labour", then the way is clear.

All they have to do is end their ruthless defence of the waterfront sacred cow of security of tenure and allow the waterfront labour force to operate under the normal market conditions that govern the rest of Australian commercial life.

Ends.............WR81/90 Contact: John Wallis

9-8-91 A/H 06 295 6796